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Meditating Can Impact Your Immune System In This Incredible Way, New Study Says

Saying "om" can do more than just relax the mind.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Grab your meditation pillow! Researchers recently discovered that intense meditation can have a profound effect on the immune system.

Curious as to how Inner Engineering— a "technology" dedicated to your wellbeing, which comes from yoga practice — plays a role in the biological process involved in physiological health? Study experts from University of Florida examined blood samples from 106 adults before and after they took part in an intense wellness retreat. During the highly-regimented program, the volunteers meditated over 10 hours each day in addition to not talking for eight days, consuming a vegan diet, and adhering to a normal sleep schedule.

According to their findings, which were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the investigators found that numerous immune-related pathways actually shifted in the participants' post-retreat samples.

young black man wearing athletic wear sitting in the park exercising yoga

Related: Surefire Ways to Boost Immunity Right Now, Say Dietitians

"For the first time, the study offers clinical evidence that the immune system can be boosted naturally without pharmaceutical intervention through meditation," lead study author Vijayendran Chandran, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics and neuroscience in the University of Florida College of Medicine tells Eat This, Not That!

Dr. Chandran explains that he and his colleagues "were astonished to find heightened activity in as many as 220 genes directly related to the immune response, including 68 genes associated with anti-virus and anti-cancer responses." In fact, there was also a COVID connection.

"While meditation boosted activity in the 68 anti-viral genes (interferon signaling), comparing the patients with severe COVID-19 showed the opposite trend—the levels of these anti-viral genes were significantly reduced," Dr. Chandran adds.

Interestingly, the researchers learned the robust gene changes continued for three months after the retreat. "These findings could have potential implications for many immune-related conditions, including COVID-19 and multiple sclerosis, as it was found that meditation produced beneficial gene activity comparable to conventional treatments given to multiple sclerosis patients," Dr. Chandran states.

Senior couple is doing fitness training at home.

So, is there reason to believe that those of us who meditate for 10, 15, or 20 minutes a day can reap the same health benefits? "Long-term meditation for a short duration each day may also improve the immune system," concludes Dr. Chandran. "However, we have not yet tested this scenario."

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Amy Capetta
Amy Capetta has been writing articles on healthy living for more than two decades. Read more about Amy